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Puff Pastry

Updated: Mar 19, 2022





WHAT IS PUFF PASTRY?


Puff pastry also known as Pâte Feuilletée in French is categorized as one of the two main "Laminated Pastries", Croissant being the other one. It is a "Laminated" pastry mainly due to the way that it is made, which is by folding and layering dough and butter together multiple times to create a thin alternating layers of butter and dough. When this pastry is baked, the water in the butter will start to evaporate separating the dough layers in the heat of the oven and the butterfat will keep the layers of dough from sticking from one another giving you the crispy multi layers of baked pastry.


When making puff pastry, a Détrempe (main dough) is made and a separate butter sheet is rolled to a even thickness with the dough before being enveloped by the dough. The method of enveloping the butter with the dough is called "Locking In". This locked in dough is then rolled to a specified length and then folded on to one another like you would when you folding a small tea towel. The rolling and folding is then repeated over several times. This process is called "Lamination".


You can fold the dough in a number of different ways and the two most common ways are called the "Half Fold/ Single Fold" and "Double Fold/ Book Fold".




LAMINATION


Lamination or Laminated doughs refer to pastries that are made by layering dough and butter together multiple times so that when they are put in the oven to bake, the fat layer in the butter will start to separate the dough layers and causes them to puff up and create a flaky pastry.


A typical puff pastry will require that you do 6 x single turn with resting period in between in the fridge.




TEMPERATURE OF BUTTER AND DOUGH FOR LAMINATION


When doing the lamination, the temperature and consistency of both the dough and butter sheet is important to ensure that you have an even layer of butter and dough in your puff pastry. Depending on how much water you have added into your dough, the best guideline would be that the consistency, pliability and feel of the dough should be if not as close to, as similar to the consistency, pliability and feel of the butter sheet.


If you follow the recipe and ingredients below as instructed, I find that the dough and butter are best laminated at the temperature at 6˚C -9˚C for the dough and 14˚C - 16˚C for the butter sheet.


If you are using butters with a lower melting point such as the ones that are not catered for puff pastries, it is recommended that you use the butter at a lower temperature of between 12 - 14˚C as the butter tends to go softer at a higher temperature than the one mentioned.




DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUFF PASTRY AND CROISSANT PASTRY


The make up of Puff Pastry and Croissants are similar in the way that they are made by laminating butter in between dough and stacking the dough on top of one another by doing multiple folds to create alternating layers of dough and butter.


A few different points between the two pastries are as follow:


Croissants

- Contain Yeast and sugar

- The makeup of croissants are : Flour, Butter, Sugar, Water/milk, Egg, Yeast

- Usually consist of 3 total "Single Turns"

- Croissant has a light doughy interior and flaky on the exterior after being baked

- Is also considered a yeast dough

- Common ratios for Croissants are = 1 Part Butter : 1 Part Liquid : 2 Part Flour


Puff Pastry

- Do not contain yeast

- The only makeup of puff pastry are Water, Flour and salt

- Has an overall flaky texture after being baked.

- Usually consist minimum of 6 "Single/Half" turns.

- Is not considered as a yeast dough

- Common ratios for Puff Pastry are = 2 Part Flour : 2 Parts Butter : 1 Part Water



DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HALF FOLD AND DOUBLE FOLD


One "Single Fold/Turn" typically will give you 3 layers of butter and 4 layers of dough, whereas a "Book Fold/ Double Fold" will give an additional layer summing up to 4 layers of butter with 5 layers of dough.


With a single turn, the dough is rolled out to a certain length, with one end folded to 1/3 of the way to the centre, then folding the other end on top.


On the other hand, a "Book Fold" is done by rolling the dough out to a certain length and with both ends folded 1/4 towards the centre meeting both ends together then folding the dough over in half again.



 
 



 


HOW MANY TURNS/FOLD IN TOTAL WHEN LAMINATING PUFF PASTRY


A typical puff pastry is made up of the following ratios:


100% Strong Flour

100% High fat Butter (for Lamination)

50% Water

2% Salt


Some bakery uses lesser percentage of fat to flour for easier handling and in some cases, to cut cost. The more butter does not necessary mean better quality puff pastry, it very often comes down to the baker's personal preference. In here, the recipe uses 80% of butter to the ratio of flour and still yields a great quality product providing that you use the best butter for the pastry.


A traditional French method would require that you do a 6 x Single Folds/turns for puff pastry.


With 6 x single turns, you will end up with 729 layers of butter.




 

ARE THE MORE LAYERS THE BETTER WHEN LAMINATING PUFF PASTRY?


Personally, it really depends on what you are trying to do with the puff pastry. Having more than a thousand layers are great and can give you that "wow" factor. It is especially so if you are making Mille Feuille which literally mean "thousand layers".


When I am making puff pastry for other uses such as bases for St. Honoré or as a pastry for my beef pot pie, having a flaky texture is good enough for me disregarding how many layers they are.


Having too many layers, in my opinion can also risk you rupturing some of the thin dough and compromise on the layers.




 

BUTTER USED FOR LAMINATING PUFF PASTRY


You can generally use normal unsalted butter with at least 80% fat content to do the lamination, however, a butter that has a high melting point and a good elasticity will be more ideal. This is why most industrial baker would prefer to buy in special butter made just for laminated pastries. These butters are sometimes called the "pastry butter" or "French Butter".


I have only ever used two types of industry brand butter imported from France. These butter has been chemically altered that changes the workability of the butter, making it more extensible which is important when you are trying to roll them out as they have less tendency of breaking up when being rolled.


A typical butter you buy from the supermarket has a melting point ranging between 32°C - 35°C. Pastry Butter or French Butter usually have a higher melting point, with each brand being different. Melting point of the butter used is important when laminating pastries as a normal butter with low melting point can make rolling the pastry difficult and messy. It is also especially important that a high melting point butter is used when you are baking or rolling the laminated pastries to prevent the butter from melting too soon before it starts baking or during rolling, which can compromise the layers you work so hard to achieve.


The below are the types of common French Butter I used and know of:





 

CAN I USE OTHER FATS FOR MAKING PUFF PASTRY?


It is common to use substitute fat such as lard for the lamination process. Lard is much easier to laminate because it contain 100% fat, which means that they would not break as easily between the dough when rolled. However, lard lacks the flavour that butter can give. It is therefore recommended that good quality butter or cultured butter are use for the purpose of laminating puff pastry.

 

GLOSSARY FOR PUFF PASTRY


Détrempe : Détrempe in laminated dough refers to the Main dough of the pastry.



Beurrage: Beurrage refers to the butter used in the lamination of the the pastry. In some recipes, butter used in the lamination process are added with a certain amount of flour before being rolled out to sheets. This is often called the "Buerre Manié". The additional flour makes the butter more flexible and easier to handle and shaped into sheets without them setting too hard which can brittle and break during rolling if the butter gets too cold.


Locking in : Often the initial steps in doing lamination involves rolling the "Detrempe" to a certain length and width (usually twice the length of the butter with the same width). The butter is then place in the centre of the dough and with the excess of the dough on both sides wrapping the top of the unsealed butter. The process of sealing off the butter with the detrempe is referred to as "Locking in" as you are locking in the butter into the dough.


Although this is one of the many ways to do lamination as there are various other methods such as the "English Method" or the Inverted Puff Pastry which uses a different way of initiating the lamination process. In this post, we are just going to go with the "traditional" Method.


 


Let's get Started!




RECIPE


Puff Pastry


500 g Baker's Flour

270- 280 ml Water

12 g Fine Salt


400 g Croissant Butter (For laminating)



 

Method

Note: There are a total of 6 "Single Fold" and we will be performing two sets of folds between each rest. With each sets of folding, do two finger indent to remind yourself where you are at. For example, for the first set, you would have done 2 single folds, so make two finger indents on top of the dough, wrap and then rest the dough in the fridge. When you are ready to roll again, you will know that you have 2 more sets of single folds to perform. So, on the second sets, you will place 4 finger indents on top of the dough and so forth.


This method is more useful for when you are making more than 1 puff pastry dough where you will be alternating between a number of pastry and is suitable for when you are on a production line. Nevertheless, it is still a good reminder for those of you who are forgetful like myself, trying to do too many things in a day.


There will be a 30 minutes rest in between each 2 x "Single Fold"



 

1. Make the Détrempe

Place all the ingredients except the butter in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment and mix until they form into a smooth ball. Do not overmix at this point.


If the dough feels too dry, simply add a little water at a time to adjust. The dough should not be too wet but just enough water to bring all the ingredients together.


Once a rough dough is formed, remove the Détrempe from the bowl, gently knead to smooth out the dough and until you can no longer feel dry lumps in the dough, then roll it into a flat rectangle without dusting any additional flour.


Wrap in cling film and let the dough rest in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.


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